Monday, May 31, 2010

Song of the Day: Jens Lekman - Black Cab

Jens is a vastly underrated singer-songwriter out of Sweden who's released three excellent albums.  One of these, Oh You're So Silent Jens, is actually a compilation of singles and EPs, and it contains today's song of the day.  If this guitar figure doesn't get stuck in your head, nothing will.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Song of the Day: The Sundays - Don't Tell Your Mother

What would happen if The Smiths replaced Morrissey with a woman?  Perhaps something like The Sundays.  I'm not particularly familiar with their oeuvre, but this song, off a '90s DGC Rarities compilation, is good stuff.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Songs of the Day: The dB's - Living a Lie/Bad Reputation

North Carolina week concludes with Winston Salem's The dB's, a band worthy of a Big Star-esque cult. Like Big Star, they only released a few albums, all of which have been out of print for a while. My first dB's CD was a German import called Neverland, and it was the first two albums (Stands for Decibels and Repercussion) on one CD (much like Big Star's #1 Record/Radio City).

Also like Big Star, the songs are catchy, but for some reason they took a while to grow on me.  Now I think these two albums are classics, and hopefully one day they'll get the attention they deserve.  I had an impossible time choosing a song to showcase, but since we're dealing with two seminal albums, and I want to end NC week with a bang, here are two of my favorite dB's songs.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Song of the Day: Bandway - 4-Day Weekend

I don't know what happened to these guys, but they were geniuses. I first saw them at a small club in Raleigh, and it was one guy with a guitar, a dude with a microphone, and a tape deck. But from their stage presence, particularly the singer, and hooks, you'd think you were watching AC/DC.

I got another chance to see them open for Tenacious D a few years later, and it's an obvious match - both play hard rock songs with lyrics that are sung with vigor about ridiculous things (my second favorite Bandway song deals with white nipples).

But this song is particularly appropriate, as my vacation starts today and Monday is Memorial Day, I in fact have a 4-day weekend. That's what the fuck these guys are talking about.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Song of the Day: The Kingsbury Manx - How Cruel

The Kingsbury Manx is a Chapel Hill band that put out their first album 10 years ago and is still around today.  Their eponymous debut received a number of good reviews, but none more surprising than Britain's New Musical Express.  I was actually visiting London in 2000 when NME's year-end issue came out (I still have a copy somewhere), and it was beyond unfathomable that this album made the list of top 50 albums (at number 30, nonetheless).  Not that it didn't deserve it, but how an album from a Chapel Hill band, released on a tiny indie label, made its way over the pond is beyond me.

This song off the debut is still my favorite song by the band.  It always reminds me of Pink Floyd's Meddle - I think it's the slide guitar in particular that sounds a bit like "A Pillow of Winds."  Check it out.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Song of the Day: Annuals - Brother

In my mind, these guys have yet to live up to their first single, which to me sounds like an Arcade Fire outtake.  I got a chance to see them at the Troubadour in LA, and they put on a good live show, but their two albums have been underwhelming. The good news is that they started young and hopefully still have time to make an album as terrific as "Brother."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Song of the Day: Vanilla Trainwreck - Jangarene

I never got a chance to see Vanilla Trainwreck live, which is disappointing, because I bet their dual-guitar attack, as evidenced in this song, would have been something to behold.  They remind me quite a bit of Television, and I can imagine them playing a pretty nifty cover of "Marquee Moon."  Their second album, Sounding to Try Like You, is remarkably consistent and extremely underrated, and even the most loyal of my three readers is probably unfamiliar with this one. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Video: Pearl Jam - Hunger Strike (with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses)

(via Pitchfork)

Song of the Day: Ryan Adams - Magnolia Mountain

There is something about Ryan Adams that either drives people to become obsessed with his output or think he's the world's biggest asshole - one who sneezes and thinks it's a song.

Me?  I celebrate his entire catalog.  Unfortunately, I didn't become obsessed with him until after Whiskeytown had come and gone, and when I think of all of the opportunities I missed to see him solo and/or with Whiskeytown, I become despondent.  I would venture to guess Whiskeytown played at least 10 times in Raleigh and Chapel Hill when I was growing up, and that's probably underestimating by a factor of 2 or 3.  And I went to a total of zero shows.  In fact, the only time I've seen Ryan Adams perform is when he played the Wiltern in LA, which was probably 4-5 years ago.

Luckily, I have his records.  While his first solo record, Heartbreaker, is my favorite, he has so many great songs that it's impossible to choose just one.  Pretty much all of his post-debut albums are inconsistent, with a couple of clunkers here and there.  But I'd say the guy is batting about .800, and his good songs are often great.  He's probably due for a greatest hits compilation, but that would likely interfere with the 18 other albums he probably has planned (including his sci-fi metal opus Orion, which is hopefully on its way to me now).  This song, played with his band the Cardinals and released on Cold Roses the same year as two (!) other albums, has got to be among his best. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Song of the Day: The Connells - Fun & Games

To start off NC week, these guys were definitely the musical heroes of Raleigh, NC in the late '80s and early '90s, and they eventually gained some international fame in 1993 for '74-'75.  The Connells also eventually became part of my first concert experience - an Earth Day concert at Walnut Creek in Raleigh that also included Drivin' and Cryin', fIREHOSE and other bands I can't remember.

Fun & Games was my first exposure to The Connells, courtesy of a cassette tape borrowed from a friend.  While I still think this album, Boylan Heights and One Simple Word all still hold up, I can't say with 100% confidence that I would like The Connells if I were hearing them for the first time today.  The songs are catchy and well-played, but it's completely impossible to disassociate the music from the experience of hearing them as a 12 year old.

Having a particular emotional connection to those albums, it's also damn hard to pick a favorite Connells song.  But today I'm going with the title track off of Fun & Games, which is a pretty good representation of "college rock" in the late '80s.

P.S. - I'm excited to say that by my count, this is the 100th song I've posted on the blog. So if you're keeping track at home, that's 100 songs, 3 readers.  What a ratio!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Song of the Day: Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians - So You Think You're in Love

Robyn Hitchcock is very much a cult artist, and though I own a few of his solo albums (and the seminal Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight), I have not drank the Kool-Aid like I have for other cult artists such as Brian Jonestown Massacre or Sloan.

I think my main interest in the album was that Michael Stipe and Peter Buck played on it, but this is a good record, and probably the most "pop" song that I've heard of his (including "Balloon Man").

Friday, May 21, 2010

Song of the Day: The Rolling Stones - Loving Cup

I should have done this on Tuesday, but to pay my respects to the re-release of my favorite album of all time, here's my favorite song off of Exile on Main St.  One reason I love this album so much is there are so many things going on, I almost always notice something new upon each listen.  Obviously the piano and drums in this song are phenomenal, but there's acoustic guitar in the left channel and electric in the right that are low in the mix, and you can barely hear Keith singing backup throughout a lot of the song.  This isn't a mind-fuck headphones record like OK Computer, but the details really reveal themselves on headphones.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

North Carolina week starts Sunday, May 23rd

In honor of my home state, each day's song of the day will be a track from an NC band.  I'll be showcasing past and present bands, so stay tuned starting May 23rd.

Song of the Day: The Acorn - Crooked Legs

I heard about these guys from a tweet by @daverawkblog and a post on Stereogum.  I'm really digging their last album, Glory Hope Fountain, and am sad to see I missed the boat on getting it on vinyl (only 300 copies pressed, apparently).  Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I pre-ordered their new album for 30 bucks (!), and I see now it's already sold out.  Hopefully this is a good sign that means they'll start getting more word-of-mouth.  I haven't listened to their last album enough to pick a definitive favorite, but this track is a good one. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Video: Janelle Monae on Letterman

another day, another Janelle Monae "Tightrope" reference

Song of the Day: Prince - The Beautiful Ones

Today just felt like a Prince day.  Like many people in their 30s, I was listening to Prince's Purple Rain at an age that defied understanding the lyrics of the songs.  I mean, an eight year-old cannot grasp what the hell is going on in "Darling Nikki," but it was pretty obvious it was something dirty.  The album is obviously a classic, and most of the songs have been heard a thousand times.  This is one that doesn't get a lot of love, but it's probably my favorite on the album.  The falsetto and way he changes it up is amazing, and the way he screams "do you want him or do you want me?" is probably my favorite Prince moment on record.  In fact, the entire last two minutes of the song never cease to give me chills.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Song of the Day: Oranger - Radio Wave

This is a cool song from 2005 by a band I know nothing about. It wouldn't be out of place on a Brendan Benson solo album, and in fact the entirety of Oranger's New Comes and Goes is pretty solid. I should know more about them but I'll leave that to  If you like this song though, I'd check out the album.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Song of the Day: Gang of Four - Not Great Men

You can hear Gang of Four's influence everywhere, from bands as diverse as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Futureheads.  I remember downloading this track from Napster in its illegal-but-not-everyone-understands-that-yet phase, and it led me to buy the Entertainment! CD, probably one of the best albums of all time.  Like the Talking Heads, these guys know how to take the punk spirit and put rhythm behind it, and the album is amazingly consistent.  Maybe it's because I heard it first, but "Not Great Men" remains my favorite track.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Song of the Day: The Feelies - Only Life

The Feelies are mentioned as being influenced by Velvet Underground and being peers to R.E.M., but when I first heard them, I didn't see the connections. I'm not sure what song I heard, because when I got a copy of Only Life, I fell in love with it immediately. The lead singer does in fact sound like Lou Reed (I like Lou Reed), and they cover a VU song on this album ("What Goes On"), but it's the opening title track that I'm listening to today.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Song of the Day: Stereophonics - Mr. Writer

These guys are huge in the UK, but no so much in the US.  Their Just Enough Education to Perform is a strong album, despite a ridiculous title and the fact that you kind of want this guy to clear his throat or take a lozenge.  The video, posted below, was actually my first exposure to "Mr. Writer," but the song still holds up for me on its own.

This video reminds me of David Fincher's The Game:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Song of the Day: The Stills - Still in Love Song

When I first moved to LA in 2004 and discovered the wonder that was Indie 103.1, they were playing this song a lot. It was the first time in years I actually heard something on the radio that I then went out and bought, and while I'm not a huge fan of the album, I still think this song is terrific.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Song of the Day: Hot Chip - Over and Over

When I saw the "Over and Over" 12" in Amoeba a few years ago, I recognized the name from having read something about them.  I'm not sure what it was, but evidently it was enough to make me pick up the record.  I believe they had one album to their name, but The Warning, which contained this song, had yet to be released.  I instantly fell in love with this song, which is a good thing, because it's the kind that will get stuck in your head the rest of the day.  These guys are about due for a singles compilation, as they have a number of songs that are classics.  More to come another time on this blog.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Song of the Day: Shudder to Think - X-French Tee Shirt

Pony Express Record is a very difficult album, and sometimes I don't know even how much I like it. In fact, when I went to see these guys tour for this album in '94 or '95, I left early - it just wasn't working for me. But no matter what kind of mood I'm in, there's no denying that it's an original record - I can't really say it sounds like any band in particular. This song probably exemplifies that spirit the best and is one of my favorites on the album.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Playlist: March 2010 songs

And here's the March playlist. As I mentioned in the February playlist post, note that for some reason each song shows up twice and Grooveshark's discussion boards are not helpful.  Fun!

Playlist: February 2010 songs

Now that Apple has almost destroyed Lala, all of the old links to songs will be worthless. So rather than going back to each individual post, I've recreated the playlists on Grooveshark. Can't wait till Grooveshark dissolves and I get to do this again!

Here's the February playlist - note it's short because I didn't start doing this until Valentine's Day (how romantic!). It's also missing Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks," which does not appear to be available on Grooveshark.

Finally, and most frustratingly, note that for some reason each song shows up twice and Grooveshark's discussion boards are not helpful

Song of the Day: James - Say Something

I knew the song "Say Something" way before I knew it was the band James.  In fact, one reason I probably didn't know it was James is that its one of the worst band names in music history, not just for its un-Google-ability (?) but its complete lack of distinction or originality.  Fortunately for them, the band makes up for it with a great album, with not one but two singles that everybody knows ("Laid" being the other, and not to digress again, but another great name; Google "James Laid" and I'm sure you'll get some fun results).  The lead singer has a terrific voice, and the album was produced by Brian Eno (source:  So don't judge a book by its cover on this one, unless you're a big fan of guys in dresses (which might come up with the aforementioned Google search).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Song of the Day: Sly & the Family Stone - If You Want Me to Stay

I have to admit, I was first exposed to this song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who covered it on Freaky Styley.  I didn't know it was Sly until the soundtrack for Dead Presidents, but hearing it made me run out and buy a bunch of Sly albums.  This is still my favorite song though, thanks in part to one of the greatest basslines ever played on a pop record.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Song of the Day: Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

Jenny Lewis has one of those voices that sound great on record, but it's not until you see her in person that you realize just how great it is. I had the pleasure of seeing her at the Hollywood Bowl, opening up for Ray LaMontagne (first act - Blitzen Trapper; hell of a bill). Many bands that play smaller venues just don't translate to places like the Bowl, but her voice sounded amazing, and even my wife, who's not a fan of her album Acid Tongue, was impressed. Here's the title track off that record.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Song of the Day: Jane's Addiction - Three Days

I still remember buying this album.  It was 1991, I had bought my first CD player, one of those all-in-one bookshelf systems with a radio, dual-cassette deck and 5-disc changer.  I had a few CDs, and I joined BMG music service to get 8 CDs for the price of 1.  Those deals were scams if you continued to be a member, but if you played it right, you could keep quitting and rejoining, and you'd end up paying about $40 for 8 CDs (this at a time when many CDs were $15 in stores.  Oh wait - remember CDs?).

I wish I could name every CD in that first shipment, but I can only think of two - EMF (whichever one had that "Unbelievable" song) and Jane's Addiction's Ritual de lo Habitual.  I didn't know much about Jane's - I'm guessing I had heard "Been Caught Stealing" on the radio.  But I was intrigued by the album cover, which looked like this:
The bottom of the cover cites the first amendment, but I didn't know why at the time.  Despite the plain packaging, the music inside was anything but - I was entranced by the opening monologue, spoken in Spanish by a woman, the only words me understanding being "senors," "senoras" and "Juano's Addiction."  And while "Been Caught Stealing" and "Classic Girl" still sound unique, they didn't sound out of place on the radio compared to the sprawling sounds of "Then She Did" and today's feature, "Three Days."

"Three Days" opens with Perry Farrell talking, and then a great bassline comes in (I used to know how to play it, albeit poorly).  I was always impressed with Eric Avery's bass playing, and it always just sounds so damn good.  Then comes some shimmering guitar, some light drumming, and Perry Farrell's unique voice.  While not a song suite like yesterday's MGMT song, this 10+ minute song showcases everything Jane's does best, and despite Farrell's always over-the-top imagery ("erotic Jesus" anyone?) it remains my favorite song of theirs.

Oh, and the real artwork is pretty damn interesting too:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Song of the Day: MGMT - Siberian Breaks

There seem to be two distinct camps for the new MGMT record, Congratulations - the people who hate it because they were expecting more "Kids" and "Time to Pretend" and the people who like it because everyone hates it.

I think I fall in between these two - I was hoping for more pop songs in the vein of the first side of the debut, and this record didn't really grab me at first. However, the more I listen to it, the more I'm enjoying it. As I tweeted a few weeks ago,this isn't nearly as weird or un-catchy as The Flaming Lips' Embryonic (which I also enjoy), yet it's getting a lot more bad reviews than that record .

I particularly like side 3 of Congratulations, the song suite titled "Siberian Breaks."  It's pretty much all over the damn place, much like the record, but it's a great sounding song.  Will you be singing along with it?  Probably not.  But it'll grow on you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Song of the Day: The Band - King Harvest (Has Surely Come)

I came upon The Band once I really started getting into Bob Dylan in college. I liked The Basement Tapes, but it was Dylan's Royal Albert Hall concert from the Bootleg Series that really made me want to check out The Band. The first two albums are classics, but I much prefer the eponymous album. Even though I had heard some of the songs before, I was surprised at how funky these guys were. "Up on Cripple Creek" is of course a great example of this, but "King Harvest" is a lesser known, excellent song.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Video: Joanna Newsom - '81

Got tickets this weekend to see Joanna Newsom at the Orpheum in July. Couldn't be more excited, particularly when I see videos like this:

(via Stereogum)

Song of the Day: New Pornographers - The Jessica Numbers

Like Broken Social Scene, the New Pornographers consists of a ton of members who have recorded as solo acts. Neko Case is far and away my favorite, though I really enjoy Destroyer and the Zumpano record from way back when. Also like BSS, they released a new album this week that is getting good reviews. So until I get the chance to hear it, I'm posting my favorite NP song, "The Jessica Numbers," off of Twin Cinema.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Video: The Clientele covers MIA's "Paper Planes"

Pretty damn good for being out of their comfort zone (via the AV Club)

Song of the Day: Broken Social Scene - Almost Crimes

Their new record comes out today and is getting great reviews, but since I haven't heard it yet, I figured I'd feature my favorite Broken Social Scene song, "Almost Crimes" off of You Forgot It in People. Since they're are approximately 73 members of BSS, this song features everything - horns, OK Computer guitar riffs, excellent drumming, male and female vocals...very eclectic song from a very eclectic band.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Playlist: April 2010 songs

These are all the songs featured in the blog in April. Grooveshark seems to have a deeper selection than Lala, but for some reason I couldn't find The Cure's "The Kiss." In its place is a demo of the song, which I'm guessing is from some b-side collection or box set. Enjoy

Song of the Day: Sean Lennon - Dead Meat

I bought Sean Lennon's debut album back when it came out on the Beastie Boys' label.  It's an inconsistent album with a few great songs, and it was good enough to keep me interested for a followup.  Unfortunately, that second album, Friendly Fire, took about 10 years to come out (literally).  It also has some great songs, including the opening track, "Dead Meat."  Also check out the video of the Letterman performance from a few years ago.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Song of the Day: The Black Crowes - Wiser Time

Although obviously already familiar with the Black Crowes, I bought Amorica when it was released thinking it had a song on it that was actually by another band entirely. This would be a better story if I could remember what song it was, but it was 16 years ago and I can't remember yesterday all that well.

I enjoyed the singles off of the first two BC albums, but listening to Amorica, I was really impressed with how different it sounded from those songs. They no longer seemed to be emulating the Stones and Faces (not that that's a bad thing), and while they weren't exactly reinventing the wheel, the album has a much looser feel (witness the many pot references in the songs and album packaging). It's really difficult to pick a song from this album, but I'm going with "Wiser Time" because I really like how the Robinson brothers sing together on this track.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Song of the Day: Beta Band - Assessment

The scene in High Fidelity when Rob says he's going to sell five copies of the Beta Band is one of the best in the movie.  As with my Belle & Sebastian post, however, I'm playing a different song from a different album.  I can't even name another song on the Heroes and Zeroes album because I just keep listening to this one.